Saddle Parts question and Measuring

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Saddle Parts question and Measuring

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  • Measuring for a saddle with a coat hanger
  • Coat hanger to measure saddle

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    01-18-2011, 05:48 AM
Saddle Parts question and Measuring

I'm going to measure Chili tomorrow. I need to know what to take with me. Measuring tape? String? Coat hanger? What is the BEST method????????

Well poop me. I got the f'g wording all wrong on the saddle parts!

I was going to ask what the heck the cantle has to do with anything for trail saddles but had it mixed up with the swell. Poopy-farts. Ok.

I got the CANTLE figured out. But what I cannot figure out is the depth of the seat? Some have sharper angles than others but the same cantle height/length/whatever you call that " measurement! Ugh So, how do I know what angle of a seat I want??!!?!?!?!? This is ALL TOO F'g CONFUSING! And here, I thought I had it figured out. Dang it to haites.
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    01-18-2011, 09:57 AM
Green Broke
You just need to ride in a bunch of saddles to see what type of seat and size of seat you like best. It's personal preference.

For the horse, take a wither tracing.
  • Use a 15" flexi-curve from an arts & crafts store and take the shape of his back, about 2" behind the back edge of his shoulder blades. Take your time and really get it to fit to the curves of the muscles.
  • Carefully lift it off and place it on a large piece of cardboard. Make sure you place it so you know which was the left and right side of the horse.
  • Very carefully trace the inside contour of the flexi-curve, keeping your pencil mark as close to the flexi-curve as possible. Mark L and R "inside" the horse shape.
  • Cut out your horse shape with an exacto knife or very sharp (fresh blade) box cutter. Again, being very careful to maintain the shape.
Now, take your cardboard "horse" with you to the tack shop. Put the cutout under the saddle, at the front edge of the conchos. Pay attention to the L and R markings on your "horse." The saddle and cutout should have the same angle. The top of the cutout should have about 2-2.5" of space between it and the underside of the pommel/swell.

There is more to saddle fitting than the front of the saddle, but the cardboard cutout will help narrow down your choices. (take your soft measuring tape with you to the tack store!)

Two measurements you can take:
  1. From the back edge of the horse's shoulder blades to the mid-line of your horse's flanks. You don't want your saddle skirts to be able longer than that, front to back. It's preferable to have a saddle smaller than that measurement.
  2. From 2" behind the shoulder blades to the last rib. You want your saddle to be 1" smaller or less that this measurement from the front edge of the front concho to the back edge of the back concho.
When you get your saddle home, hopefully on "trial," you can try it on your horse to see if you picked one that really fit. I can give you instructions on how to check for fit.
    01-18-2011, 10:31 AM
Doubled over and twisted soldering wire works too altho it will make your hands dirty. I keep sewing or map pins hand for when I carefull lay the wire on the cardboard to hold it in place while I make the outline.
    01-18-2011, 11:13 AM
Thanks both of you. My truck is acting up so I'm not sure if I'll be able to even get out to the barn at all tonight... But I'll get that lined up to take with me!
    01-18-2011, 12:38 PM
The seats of a Western Saddle are made for specific things that are done on horseback, for instance, a roping saddle is not as deep as say a Cutting Saddle. The roping saddle is made so the roper and get out of it quicker when they have a steer/calf on the lariat. The Cutting Saddle is made to help the rider stay on board. A Pleasure/Trail saddle has a more level seat. Barrel racing saddles have deep seats, also.

I have seen the cardboard cut-out used a lot, but using a wire clothes hanger eliminates the having to mark which side is which. Bend a hanger until it is a straight piece of wire. Then place it over the horse and bend it down to the conformation of the horse. The measuring is the same as when a cardboard cut-out is used.
    01-18-2011, 01:31 PM
Green Broke
A wire coat hangar can be easily mishapen in transport, and you would still need to know right and left side. The R/L marking is so you know how it will sit on your horse. Not all saddle trees are perfectly symetrical and no horse is perfectly semectrical.
    01-18-2011, 04:02 PM
A saddle company is sending me a template to use too. I'm not in a hurry so much as I am curious. If I can't find a saddle company willing to trade services, I'm not getting a saddle for awhile... Business is slow going at the moment. :(
    01-19-2011, 10:55 PM
(will double post this but wanted to update this one first)

So, I measured Chili today. SEVERAL times. I thought the first couple of times I was just crazy wrong. Most of the saddles I keep looking at have gullets about 6"-7" wide. I've never seen one bigger. Guess I need to start lookin' elsewhere because she is measuring between 9"-11" wide in the gullet, depending on EXACTLY where the new saddle hits. (at the base of/almost at the base of her withers - I tried several different spots and the narrowest was 9" wide). I even tried making the wire (I used a heavier wire than a coat hanger but not much thicker) tighter on her body like snugging up the saddle but STILL it was that wide.

I tried my friend's saddle again - seeing where it fit, how it fit on Chili. Just to get an idea of what was wrong with it. It sits REALLY high in the front and lifts up in the back when you snug it up. (Why didn't I see this when my friend saddled it up for me the one and only time I've ridden in it on her?) I took it off and measured it, wondering just how far off it was... It measured "regular" 6" +/-

Then, I talked to the BO who showed me HER saddles. Guess I should've started with her and taken a closer look at her saddles. OMG they are WIDE in the gullet. I've never seen a saddle that wide!!!! I measured one - an older Billy Cook - and it was EXACTLY how I'd measured Chili !!!!! Nonetheless, I was excited to know at least I've done *something* right with My Chili Girl.
    01-19-2011, 11:59 PM
Sounds like you are looking at a Full Quarter Horse Bars type saddle tree. That is the widest measurement for off the shelf western saddles. Otherwise, it's a cumstom fit. Or, some saddle makes use other type of rating systems, but most commonly used western saddles have "semi QH bars. Qh bars and Full Qh bars and Arab trees.
Correct me if I am wrong, western people.
    01-20-2011, 12:02 AM
Exactly. But as I'$ looking at a saddle site, it says fqhb is only 7" ! ?????
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